How to Build a Direct Response Funnel in YouTube


When it comes to marketing on YouTube, advertisers don’t often pursue this video platform’s keen power to drive direct response leads and sales. This post will examine some of the essential components to consider when creating a direct response funnel in YouTube.

First, let’s take a look at a very important part of the path that deserves some attention: the Brand Channel.

What is a Brand Channel?

Brand Channels give companies and marketers the ability to customize the look and feel of their channel on YouTube. Key features of a Brand Channel include:

  • Channel banner
  • Google analytics tracking
  • Custom thumbnails
  • Conditional redirects

Who Qualifies for a YouTube Brand Channel?

Companies qualify for a YouTube Brand Channel when they meet an as of yet unpublished but rumored committed media spend. Even if you have a Brand Channel, some of the features are only reserved for those committing a sizeable chunk of change to AdWords.

The basic YouTube Brand Channels like eHarmony and Netflix are given to Google and YouTube advertisers who exceed a minimum annual media spend, although YouTube doesn’t tell you that. In fact, YouTube claims Brand Channels are free, if you have a dedicated ad rep.

The issue here is dedicated AdWords reps are mainly assigned to accounts spending around $200,000 annually in AdWords. You’re a sneaky monkey, YouTube.


Brand channels like Gillette is American Family Insurance have access to what are called “gadgets” and “Engagement Products.” The baseline investment for gadgets begins at $200,000 and goes up from there, depending on functionality.


Setting Up a Direct Response Funnel

Ideally, all ad creative and content should be developed at the same time to provide a logical and connected flow for the user. Each piece of the funnel should be linked by a seamless transition.

What follows are important funnel components that should be in place, in the order the user will interact with it:

InSearch and InDisplay Ads

Check out the Guide to YouTube TrueView Ads for a deep dive into these and other YouTube ads. Basically, the ad units work like this:

1. User sees video ad either in YouTube search result or next to a contextually related video and clicks it.

The ads look like this:





2. User is directed to either the YouTube watch or channel page. The best option for direct response is to send the viewer to the channel page, where the experience can be customized.

Custom Thumbnail

Brand Channels have the ability to upload a customized image. The thumbnail is the image users will see in organic search results and ads. Find this feature in the video edit window.

  • Specs: 16×9 aspect ratio; minimum width: 640px



The length of the video shouldn’t be the first concern. We’ve seen 15-minute videos successfully sell products on YouTube.

What’s most important is that the video delivers what was promised in the InSearch or InDispay ad. Make sure your video provides the information needed for the viewer to feel confident in taking the next action you’re asking of them.

Channel Banner

The channel banner will provide the real estate necessary to make the channel stand apart with custom branded creative. Be sure to bake in a CTA button in the banner. Make the channel banner clickable by installing an image map.

  • Specs: 970px wide, up to 150px height


External Linking Annotations

This feature used to be a part of the YouTube gadget suite, meaning it was hard to get your hands on unless you shelled out the money. However, YouTube has recently made this feature available to more users.

External annotations are a powerful tool. When using them, aim to position them at the most opportune moment(s) in your video.



To identify the right moment to place the annotation, test using the “Absolute Audience Retention” data in YouTube Analytics. The peaks in the line graph identify points in the video users are most attentive. Points over 100 percent show points users commonly rewind to.


YouTube isn’t only good for watching the latest Kid Snippets video or the new J Bieb video. Many companies have found success and nailed aggressive CPA goals with YouTube ads. If you haven’t already considered it, maybe it’s time to look again.

If your company is using video to drive conversions, how are you doing so? Have you had success with using YouTube videos for direct response? Chime in in the comment thread below.

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